Sandhog Michael O'Brien Killed in East Side Access Tunnel Project

By Tuan Nguyen on November 18, 2011 7:47am | Updated on November 19, 2011 8:54am

Falling concrete at the East Side Access tunnel under Grand Central Terminal struck and killed a worker at the construction site on Thurs., Nov. 17, 2011.
Falling concrete at the East Side Access tunnel under Grand Central Terminal struck and killed a worker at the construction site on Thurs., Nov. 17, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Paul Lomax

MIDTOWN — A construction worker was struck and killed by concrete that fell on him as he worked beside his dad underneath Grand Central Terminal, transit officials said.

Michael O'Brien, 26, of Westfield, Wis. had been working alongside his father, Robert, on the East Side Access tunnel Thursday evening when debris fell, the MTA said.

The Daily News reported that the man's father unsuccessfully tried to save his life with CPR.

O'Brien, a sandhog who worked for a project contractor run jointly by Dragados and Judlau, was taken to Bellevue Hospital at about 8 p.m. where he died.

This is the first sandhog fatality on any of the five MTA megaprojects, officials said.

The MTA suspended work in the section of the East Side Access project where the accident happened to conduct an investigation.  

A statement from Dragados/Judlau, said the contractor was voluntarily suspending work cooperating with an investigatin of the incident.

Work is continuing on the Queens side of the project and elsewhere in the Manhattan side, MTA officials said. 

The transporation authority expects to resume all work on Monday.

"Everyone associated with the project is heartbroken over the loss of Michael O'Brien.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and co-workers," the statement said.

"The Metropolitan Transportation Authority wishes to extend its deepest condolences to Mr. O’Brien’s family and his fellow workers," a statement from the transit agency said.

MTA officials said the concrete that fell was solid shotcrete, a form of concrete that is applied to tunnel walls and ceilings using an elongated application device.  It comes out in a viscous liquid but hardens in place. 

The workers were not applying shotcrete at the time of the accident, MTA officials said.

East Side Access is a project by the MTA to bring the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central.

It will feature eight new station tunnels when it's finished, which is expected to be in 2016.

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